Gradkowski will pose challenge

The Syracuse defense helped contain Heisman-hopeful Ryan Schneider from a breakout game. They'll have to do the same against Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski this Saturday.

Gradkowski threw for 461 yards and three touchdowns as Toledo stunned No. 9 Pittsburgh, 35-31 last Saturday.

Gradkowski, much like Schneider (who threw for 497 yards two weeks ago), is capable of that type of performance on a weekly basis. The Syracuse secondary was better last week, but still needs the help of a pass rush to be effective.

Syracuse's front line did not produce a single sack against Schneider, although they did hurry and hit him several times.

"Gradkowski knows exactly what he wants to do with the ball," head coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "He has a firm understanding of what they are trying to accomplish."

The Syracuse defense seems to be up for the challenge, after holding UCF to 14 points.

"Every week we have to have the same mindset," defensive back Thomas Whitfield said, "that no matter who it is or what they have done, we have to stop them."

Still, Toledo runs a different type of offense than UCF did.

"They are never in the huddle," Pasqualoni said. "It is going to be a bigger challenge for us this week."

The no huddle offense seemed to wear the Pittsburgh defense down and allowed Gradkowski time to find his receivers. Toledo also waits until the play clock drops below 20 seconds before it makes substitutions.

"You are always looking to see who is running in the game, who is running out of the game," Pasqualoni said. "It makes it hard on you in that regard."

A win would boost SU's record to 3-1, a solid foundation heading into its Big East schedule.

"To see Toledo as just another team would be a mistake in itself," offensive guard Matt Tarullo said. "You have to look at every game like you are playing for a National Championship."

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